To the outside world, those in the public eye have it all; the wealth, the fame and the adoring fans. However, many of those living their lives in the full glare of the public eye struggle with their own battles and illnesses, including addiction; and eating disorders are surprisingly common.
Fame and addiction often go hand in hand, as the stresses of life in the spotlight can often be difficult for some individuals to handle. And with the constant media spotlight and the advent of social media, there is growing pressure for celebrities to look a certain way.
Mental Health Problems
Most people think of anorexia when they hear the term ‘eating disorder’ but there are many different types of eating disorders, and not everyone with an eating disorder will be painfully thin. An eating disorder is classed as a mental health problem, and those affected often suffer from low self-esteem or a lack of confidence.
While individuals suffering from anorexia do tend to become incredibly thin because of a restriction in calories, other eating disorder sufferers can hide their illness because their weight does not fluctuate as much. Those with bulimia, for instance, tend to have a steady weight. This is because they go through periods of binge eating followed by purging where they will make themselves sick or take laxatives in a bid to rid their bodies of the excess calories they have consumed.
Secret Eating Disorder
Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell has opened up about how she was affected by bulimia during her time in the band. Most people will be shocked to hear how Geri, or Ginger Spice as she was known, was suffering from crippling body issues. She said her state of mind was deeply affected by being in the public eye, adding, “I felt much more conscious of myself, my body weight. We all used different tools to get by, coping mechanisms. For me [it] was controlling my body weight.”
Geri admits that her fellow band members were completely unaware that she was struggling with an eating disorder. She said, “I started being bulimic and no one would notice it because your body weight stays pretty much the same. It’s bloody dangerous. I was worried I’d get fat. I would binge and then felt fatter and would make myself sick. It was awful.”
This is common among sufferers of bulimia, and loved ones often have no clue that someone close to them is affected.
Help and Support
Luckily for Geri, she did manage to get help for her eating disorder, and she had many friends who helped her through this tough period in her life by providing her with much-needed support. She joined a 12-step fellowship programme and learned how to have a healthy attitude towards food.
Unfortunately, many individuals never get the help they need because they do not know how to access it, or their loved ones continue to be oblivious to the problem until the very late stages.
It is important to be aware that eating disorders can have a devastating impact on those affected, in terms of both mental and physical health. Nevertheless, treatment is available, and early intervention is key.
A Growing Problem
With the advent of social media and ‘selfies’, there is growing pressure on people to look good, and many youngsters are becoming more body-conscious at a very young age. This is leading to increasing numbers developing eating disorders. According to statistics from NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association), eighty per cent of people with bulimia are female, with between one and two per cent of all young women having some type of issues with binge eating and purging.
Spotting Eating Disorders
It is easier to spot the signs of anorexia because those affected tend to lose large amounts of weight and will be more careful about what they eat. Nonetheless, because the weight of those with bulimia tends to be quite steady, loved ones often miss the tell-tale signs. It is important, then, to be on the lookout for the signs of eating disorders such as bulimia.
Since bulimia sufferers tend to binge eat, they may leave evidence behind, such as food wrappers in bins or under beds. Noticing a large amount of food missing may also indicate a problem.
Parents and carers should also be on the lookout for teens that leave to use the bathroom very soon after eating. Those with bulimia may try to purge themselves of food straight after eating. You may notice the signs or smells of vomiting after your teenager has been to the bathroom. Many will turn the water taps on full to mask the sound of vomiting.
Another common sign of eating disorders is an obsession with exercising. Those who are compelled to control their body weight may become rigid about an exercise programme and will keep to it regardless of whether they are feeling ill or tired. For example, they may insist on heading out for a run, even when the weather is very bad.
- Spice Girl Geri Halliwell Reveals She Battled Bulimia (Shape)